ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

The architects of national decisions that matters have actually played themselves into an impossible corner. They must eat the cake and have it too; they must cultivate democratic pretensions and yet be impatient with democratic opposition. An impasse of this nature inevitably leads to the mindless acceptance of the proposition: my anti-terrorism is superior to yours. It is then a smooth passage to the brilliant corollary that if my police are nincompoops, I must have legislation which decrees detention sans trial.

Let us be reasonable. We cannot expect technology to make extra-ordinary strides and yet order the technology of terror to remain primitive. If the will is there to chisel the artifices of terror, give or take a certain space of time, the relevant technology will answer the prayer. Fifty years ago a weapon of the specificity of Kalashnikov 47 would have been beyond the pale of imagination; now it is passe. If prognosticators are to be believed, the manufacture of nuclear explosives will soon be a cottage industry and such explosives would be used by the lumpen crowd in every country, maybe to settle their private scores. Why the lumpens alone, 21st century Montagues and Capulets may not flinch, passions roused, from engaging in an atomic skirmish with each other.

As the technology of terror improves, the range of its application is also bound to expand. Practically any target will be reachable, including this or that national totem or ikon. Targeting ikons may even be reckoned as akin to doubling the fun. Righteous indignation that the December 13 episode within the precincts of the Indian parliament is a declaration of war on the very symbol of democracy should therefore provoke a wry smile. If the world is globalised, terror too must be globalised. Sanctity will henceforth attach to nobody and nothing. Terror is terror. The intended victim of terror can be you, me, your neighbour, my neighbour, your enemy, my enemy, your friend, my friend.

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